Monday, July 14, 2014

My Vocation Story: Part One

I would like to share with you how I decided to become a Catholic priest.   This was a decision I made in response to what I perceived to be God’s call.  I started to think about becoming a priest when I was sixteen years old and in high school. It was during the time that I was preparing for the sacrament of confirmation with my peers. I remember watching one of my parish priests at Mass one day and being very impressed with him: particularly his holiness, his spirit of charity and gentleness, and his role in the community. I thought that his way of life as a priest was such a dignified, noble calling.  I realized that the priest was able to help people in so many profound, important, grace-filled ways.  I felt ministered to by this priest, and I started at that time to consider that this was something I wanted to do myself.

I put the idea on the “back burner” for the remainder of my time in high school – yet apparently not too much - not too long ago for example I was looking at messages that friends wrote to me in my high school yearbook and saw that one of them referred to me as the “priest”!      

Princeton University Chapel: By the Marquand
Transept there is a Blessed Sacrament chapel
where I prayed to discern my vocation.
In the fall of my freshman year at Princeton University where I attended college, from September to December, I felt this call to ministry return and intensify.  I became attracted to the idea of service to God in the Church, in the Christian community, more and more.  I grew in my knowledge of and love for the Church: her history, traditions, liturgy, music, sacraments, teachings, and Scripture.  I attended some catechism classes on campus with a priest Rev. C. John McCloskey. Fr. C. John is a priest of Opus Dei (Opus Dei is a group of faithful within the Catholic Church whose members strive to sanctify their work and find God in the midst of ordinary life).  He was very instrumental in helping me to discern a call to priesthood.  I attended Mass with him once during that time in the chapel at Mercer House, the center of Opus Dei in Princeton, and was inspired by the experience and felt so close to God and the Mass.  

The University Chapel on the inside
Over the course of those months, I had so many questions for Fr. C. John about the Faith, and he answered all of them for me.  He gave me a book, The Faith Explained by Rev. Leo J. Trese, and I read it carefully from cover to cover and did not want to read anything else at the time!   I also meditated using the book The Way by St. Josemaria Escrivá.  By the end of this period, I began to tell people including my parents and family that I was considering becoming a priest.  Everyone was supportive!  My dad was thrilled; I always knew that he would have been so happy if one of his sons became a priest.   And my mom was incredibly happy as well; at first she wondered if I would be lonely in this vocation, but then soon thereafter she realized that the priest is able to be close to so many people in so many different ways.     

Rev. C. John McCloskey
When it comes to vocations and our life’s calling, it is important of course to pray and to listen to God’s voice in your heart.  In particular it is important to spend some time with the Blessed Sacrament in prayer.  I remember praying in a small side chapel by the Marquand Transept at the Princeton University chapel;  this small chapel housed a tabernacle containing the Blessed Sacrament. It is also advisable to listen to God’s voice in the people around you.  One can even look for ‘signs’;  God can speak to us in that way if he chooses.   For example I remember walking along campus wondering if God was calling me to be a priest, and then all of a sudden, when I looked up, there was a priest walking toward me coming from the other direction.   Not a common sight at Princeton University!  There are not a lot of priests there since it is not a Catholic university. Perhaps this was a kind of ‘sign,’ I don’t know.  I would be very humbled if it was.

I will write Part 2 of this vocation story next week on this blog; please return to find out what happened next!       


God bless each of you in your baptismal callings as well.

3 comments:

  1. What a beautiful story! I'm looking forward to reading part 2!

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  2. Fr. McLane, your story is beautiful and inspiring. I am looking forward to part two. Thank you and God continue to bless you. LAINA

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